The Beer License held by City Limits Lounge, 211 W. 45th St., was revoked by the Chattanooga Beer Board at a hearing Thursday morning.
The patrol officer in charge of the area where the lounge is located had sent Officer John Collins a list of issues that had been observed earlier at the location. Among other matters were 154 people in a building with a capacity of 65 and the club allowing people under 21 on the premises.
Because of the email, Officer Collins added this location to a list of businesses that were planned for inspections the night of Aug. 24.
At 11:45 p.m. Officer Collins, who is in charge of beer code inspections, five fire inspectors and around 14 other police officers arrived at City Limits to make a surprise check of the business. The only people there were the owner Edward Lamar Daniels and his manager. Sitting on a table near the D.J. booth were 15 bottles of assorted liquors, some already opened.
This business has had a beer permit since November 2012, but does not have a liquor license. The beer code specifies that in such a case, customers are allowed to “brown bag” liquor for themselves, but it must be taken when that customer leaves. The business cannot sell or warehouse liquor.
Mr. Daniels told the officers present that he had rented the bar out to an individual that night for a birthday party, but it had been canceled at the last minute. He showed Officer Collins a signed contract as proof. Terrance Williams, who was supposed to host the party, told the beer board members that his mother had been admitted to the hospital that night and so he called off the party after he had unboxed and placed the alcohol on a table. Since the party did not take place, he said he had planned to come back the following day to pick up the bottles.
Sergeant Mark Haskins, who was in the group of inspectors that night, testified it was his understanding that Mr. Williams had planned to sell tickets to get in which would allow them to purchase alcoholic drinks. At that time, he advised the owner of the bar that had the party been held, it would have been considered an illegal sale without having a license. Upon questioning, Mr. Williams said he had expected around 50 people to show up later in the evening. He also said that he and his girlfriend were footing the bill for the alcohol and for renting the building for the birthday party.
Officer Collins said the contract that Mr. Williams produced Thursday morning was not the one that had been shown to him that night. The one brought to the meeting showed that the rental price of the building for the night was $450. Mr. Williams told the board that he has a restaurant license and classified the business as a restaurant and lounge. However, he is only open only on Friday nights when it is rented out for private parties.
Board member Andre Harriman asked, “if you have a restaurant and bar, what is the percentage of sales of beer to food?” Mr. Williams replied that he does not have enough business to be able to give an answer. Mr. Harriman alleged that the business is called a bar but is actually an “event hall.”
Board member Kevin McKenna commented that no one could stay in business making $450 a week, paying rent for the building, and paying the manager and himself. “Something else is going on,” he said.
Responding to the claim that the establishment had not been cited before this incident, board member Phillip Sallee said “maybe he hadn’t been checked before.”
The vote was five to revoke the license and four against the motion, with Ron Smith, Ed Townson, Joe Ramsey and Chairman James Hobbs voting no.
Another violation occurred the night of Aug. 24. The Willow Street Inn at 1306 S. Willow St. was cited for two infractions of the beer code, one concerning the storage of liquor and the other for finding gambling devices and slips from an illegal lottery.
Frederick O. Harden has owned this business since 1995, and has faced these same two charges previously in 2010. He admitted to having two bottles of alcohol on the premises that a customer left, but denied any claims of gambling. He was not present when the inspection took place, so based upon an employee’s word, he maintained that on Aug. 24, only one gambling ticket was found in the trash. He said he could not control what people put in the trash.
Officer Collins said that this inspection had been prompted by a search warrant signed by a judge, and that would not have been done for only one gambling slip. The evidence had already been bagged and removed from the scene when he arrived. He explained that the usual procedure before a search warrant is signed and a vice squad is sent is for a confidential informant to observe a practice several times. There have been at least two search warrants that have resulted in violations, said Officer Collins.
The owner, Mr. Harden, has been cited to court for the gambling charges. He asked the board members to defer their ruling until his case has been heard in court on Wednesday. The board voted to postpone its decision on the gambling violation until the next meeting of the beer board on Sept. 19.
As for the liquor violation, Mr. Harden said he had simply made a mistake. Because this is a repeat violation, Andre Harriman made a motion to suspend his beer license for 30 days to begin next Thursday. The motion passed with a vote of 8-1.
In regular business, consumer permits were issued to several new restaurants locating in Chattanooga. Over There, represented by John Meeks, will be located at 388 Summerville, Ave. Opening is planned in three weeks for this restaurant that will sell beer to accompany fresh seafood.
Tupelo Honey Café opening in Warehouse Row will be the Ashville, N.C. -based chain’s sixth location. It was described as a restaurant serving Southern cuisine. The restaurant expects the food to beer ration to be 76 to 24 percent. There will be a three-drink limit per person.
The Farmer’s Daughter is located in an abandoned service station at 1211 Hixson Pike, across the street from the old Greenlife Grocery. This business will be a small café and bar, serving breakfast and lunch for the first six months, with plans to transition into serving dinner at a later date. The fare is described as simply local, seasonal American food. Hours of operation are from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Sharon Kelly along with her three new partners, are moving her successful business, Mocha Restaurant and Music Lounge, from Brainerd Road to 511 Broad St., previously the location of Southern Comfort. Ms. Kelly’s plans are to provide fine dining while being able to listen to live music. The restaurant will be a smoke-free environment and will feature various themes different days of the week. One day will be for networking and building business relationships. The first Tuesday of each month will be Senior Day with live entertainment. Another theme will be geared to ages 10-21 with “Talent Teen Tuesday” where customers will be encouraged to perform on stage. Friday and Saturday nights will be known as “Mocha after Hours,” and will require upscale casual attire. She compared the concept for her restaurant as a “B.B. King Restaurant.”
Lunch hours are from 11 a.m. -3 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Doors will re-open at 5 p.m. for dinner, staying open until 11 or 11:30 p.m. After being complimented on her plans, Ms. Kelly said, “I hope I’ll make the city proud.”
Carry-out Beer permits were issued to Tienda Distribuidora Market, a grocery store located at 1308 E. Main St., Discount Tobacco & Beer at 7000 Lee Highway and J&J Joshua and John at 4833 Bonny Oaks Drive, also a tobacco store.
A special events beer license was given to Friends of the Festival represented by Karen Shostak for Riverfront Nights at Ross’s Landing on Sept. 7 and 14, from 6:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.
As the wrecker board, members voted to approve a wrecker license for Mike Simmons for NC Towing, located at 980 Airport Rd. Mr. Simmons also owns A-1 Towing which has two locations. Police Officer Collins said that Mr. Simmons had been advised that each of the businesses must be operated independently of one another.